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Waterfowl season opens with a bang

Alabama’s waterfowl hunters had a good chance for fresh roast duck as the main course for Thanksgiving dinner as the waterfowl season opened with considerably more bang than in the past few years.

Several significant cold fronts moved ducks into the state earlier this year, and if hunters were lucky enough to have water, the action was greatly improved.

“From what I heard from various parts of the state, opening day of duck season was a good day,” said David Hayden, waterfowl specialist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “There were good reports from the Mobile Delta and good reports from the Tennessee Valley. I haven’t heard much from west Alabama, but from what little I’ve heard it seems they’ve done well over there. It seems like everybody had a good mixture of birds. Of course, there were a lot of gadwalls, as expected, because we’ve got so many. There were wigeons and teal. The Tennessee Valley had some mallards mixed in. There were good numbers and a good mixture of ducks.”

Alabama’s waterfowl season remains under the “liberal” designation from the USFWS with a 60-day regular duck, coot and merganser season, which runs through Jan. 25 with a six-duck bag limit.

The daily limit can consist of no more than four mallards (no more than two of which may be female), three wood ducks, three mottled ducks, one black duck, two redhead and one pintail. Again, the limit on scaup is one bird through Jan. 5 and two birds from Jan. 6-25. The harvest of canvasback is prohibited because of a significant reduction in the USFWS’ breeding population count. Canvasback numbers were down 44 percent from last year’s record high and 14 percent below the long-term average.

The bag limit for mergansers is five per day, only two of which may be hooded mergansers. The bag limit on coots is 15 per day. The possession limit on coots and mergansers is twice the daily bag limit.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, except during regular duck season in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. In the area north of Battleship Parkway, west of Alabama Highway 225, south of CSX Railroad tracks, and east of the west bank of the Mobile River: Monday through Thursday shooting hours shall be one-half hour before sunrise to 12:00 noon; Friday through Sunday shooting hours shall be one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

The regular goose season – statewide, including the Southern James Bay Population Zone – is open through Jan. 25. The daily bag limit of five shall not include more than two Canada geese or two white-fronted geese. The possession limit of five shall include no more than four Canada geese and white-fronted geese in aggregate.